Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 77 - Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) directed by Michael Bay

Has Michael Bay ever directed anything good? Here's a quick look at his directing filmography. Bad Boys was pretty good. The Rock is easily his best movie. I liked Armageddon when I was fifteen (probably the exact audience Bay was aiming for) but looking back at it now, it is absurdly bad. Chalk that one up as a guilty pleasure I guess. Pearl Harbor might be one of the worst movies ever (only slight hyperbole). Bad Boys II might be the definitive point in Michael Bay's career. Stick to what made the original fresh and funny or blow it up into a gratuitous and mindless money grabbing blockbuster? I think we know what he chose there. I didn't even remember that Bay directed The Island, which is pretty funny since I thought it was pretty good and thoughtful. Ironically it was his only box office bomb.

Then we have Transformers summarized by a haiku.

Words cannot express
Just how bad Michael Bay is
Worst franchise ever.

(I was having trouble between that last line or this one:
Completely tasteless.)

Okay, that's probably not true, but I'm having a difficult time thinking of a worse series of movies. The first Transformers was actually decent, acceptable popcorn fare. Then Bay went the Bad Boys II route with the sequel and made one of the most embarrassing big budget pictures ever. Dark of the Moon is a better movie than Revenge of the Fallen in the same way Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is better than At World's End, it couldn't possibly be any worse.

I'm giving Michael Bay an overly hard time here because frankly he has earned this reputation. But I also have to give him credit because he knows exactly what sells and exploits it in every possible way, making him hundreds of millions in the process. So as they say, haters gonna hate.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon continues the story of the war between Autobots and Decepticons. That's all I really care to explain because, well, what else is there to really tell? Don't you just want to see big masses of unrecognizable CGI metal duke it out? That is the whole point isn't it?

I will instead just point stuff out. Like how much I miss Megan Fox. Yes, the same Megan Fox that starred in the abysmal Jonah Hex and Jennifer's Body. But at least she has a way about her that demands your attention on screen and as I read in someone's blog, "Rosie Huntington-Whitelely makes Megan Fox look like Meryl Streep." Is there really any other reason for RHW to be there other than to run away from danger or to look up on screen in awe as chaos circles around her? In one scene I could barely hold in my laughter at a cliche shot of her gazing into the distance as buildings literally collapse behind her. Okay we get it, Megan Fox didn't want to do this movie (or Michael Bay didn't want her, whichever side you want to believe), but does Sam (Shia LeBeof) really need another super model girlfriend for this installment? Even Stevens having two top notch babes is more unrealistic than transforming robots and is just cliche casting. Why is RHW cast in this movie? Why was the role even written in? Because Sam needs a hot girlfriend to save. Because there needs to be romance! Because there needs to be eye candy on screen. (Her introduction shot is a close up of her pant-less rear end walking up stairs.) Couldn't they just explain that Megan Fox's character was on a trip or something and leave it at that? I think it was a big mistake to introduce a new female lead, especially one who is such an obvious replacement. It doesn't help that she's not given much to work with in her character, probably to protect the fact that she's not really an actress.

One of the big complaints I had with the first two movies was that the action sequences were too big, too messy and too fast. The robots were indistinguishable from each other and when they collided with each other it was impossible to tell what was going on. The scenes were cut together and edited with such breakneck speed that if you blinked for a second it felt like you'd miss half of the entire scene. The solution for Dark of the Moon? Slow-mo and lots of it. Literally every action sequence has some sort of slow motion effect. You could probably make a drinking game out of it, take a shot every time the effect is used. It is one step away from having the bullet-time camera which will probably come in the next installment. However, the action on screen is still a big mess. There is a snake-like Decepticon that is so large and confusing to look that as it destroys everything on screen you can't differentiate it from the surroundings. Also despite the gigantic robots and big explosions, the sense of danger and excitement does not match the size of action on screen. Two robots clash, they destroy a building, people get evaporated by death rays, people hopelessly shoot back, yawn. The big problem is that it is hard to make compelling or believable action sequences with the CGI robots as the centerpiece. There is one solid action scene however which features a building toppling over. In it, the human heroes slide back and forth inside holding on for dear life.

Why do some robots have hair? One has Einstein-like hair and another has a pirates style beard. It makes already bad looking transformers look ridiculous. And also why do they have such ungodly accents? Like, seriously, why are some of the Autobots Irish?

I won't even go into the inane dialogue and comedy bits or the cliche characters and plot points. The film is so poorly written you just have to take my word for it. Why is there so much pointless exposition (new film term I've learned)? This film is over two and a half hours long yet there doesn't seem to be any character development or sensible plot whatsoever. It seems almost impossible to be bored in such a grandiose action film, yet I couldn't wait till the next action sequence I was sure to not enjoy. Two words of advice: editing room. This film could easily be less than two hours tops.

Oh, what about the the fact that the Autobots go into hiding to teach the humans a lesson? How incredibly narcissistic are they? Tens of thousands of people die while they do nothing and then show up to save the day when they feel like it. Then Optimus has the audacity to say, "We'll never forsake humanity" or some other platitudinal nonsense.

As long as I'm talking about Michael Bay, what about Shia LeBeof? Has he ever starred in a good movie? I am quickly losing all hope for him as he's been in nothing but a bunch of big budget Hollywood stinkers. He is pretty forgettable here. I can't tell if it's his acting or the character of Sam himself that is so unpleasant to watch.

Michael Bay has said that he has made his last Transformers film, so we can thankfully close the book on one of the most avaricious and artistically empty franchises in cinematic history. At least Dark of the Moon is better than Revenge of the Fallen if only because we know it is the merciful end.

Grade: D+

1 comment:

  1. HILARIOUS!!!!!

    Oh man... This post is so great. Awesome job, bud.

    You even added a haiku!!! Ha ha ha.

    You're right about the Megan Fox thing. I miss her too. And the reason they needed someone to fill those shoes is because, at least in my case, she is the main reason I'll even subject myself to the first two installments in the first place. And as you aptly point out, Bay knows how to capitalize on expoiltation and playing on the retard within us all. That absolutely requires eye candy. Was Rosie hot at least? Maxim named her number 1 this year, which I don't think Megan Fox was ever even able to obtain!! Ridiculous...

    I always had lots of hope for Shia. But either his agent, he himself, or sheer bad luck as lead him through a horrendous filmography.

    I was cracking up when you were talking about the robot hair. Ha ha.

    Totally irrelevant comment alert: John Williams kicks ass. Harry Potter 1 is on right now. JK Rowling creates this magnificent world/series, and then John Williams jumps in and creates the score/theme to fit it perfectly. You hear that theme in the theaters for a preview or whatever and the audience goes nuts. JK Rowling didn't do that. Ha. And Williams has done it for so many iconic movies/series!!! Amazing.

    Ok irrelevant comment over...